DIETARY AND SEASONAL INFLUENCES ON BLOOD CHEMISTRY AND HEMATOLOGY IN CAPTIVE HARBOR SEALS

Authors

  • Stephen J. Trumble,

    1. Institute of Marine Science, School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska 99775-1080, U.S.A. and National Marine Mammal Laboratory, 7600 Sand Point Way N.E., Seattle, Washington 98115, U.S.A. E-mail: steve.trumble@noaa.gov
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  • Michael A. Castellini,

    1. Institute of Marine Science, School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska 99775-1080, U.S.A.
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  • Tamara L. Mau,

    1. Institute of Marine Science, School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska 99775-1080, U.S.A.
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  • Judith M. Castellini

    1. Institute of Marine Science, School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska 99775-1080, U.S.A.
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Abstract

It has become increasingly important to understand the relationship between dietary intake and blood chemistry and hematological profiles in pinniped populations, especially where nutritional stress has been implicated in population declines. Blood chemistry and hematology reference ranges have been commonly reported for both free-ranging and captive harbor seals, but seasonal and dietary fluctuations are limited to only a few studies. We quantified changes in plasma metabolites and hematology values in captive harbor seals on different diets over two years. Of 29 blood chemistry and hematology variables examined in captive harbor seals, ALT, AST, GGT, creatinine, and BUN:creatinine were influenced by diet. BUN, Na+, Cl, Hct, and Hb were influenced by season. Diet did not affect hematology variables. While these data were collected on captive animals, we assume seasonal and dietary influences would be comparable in free-ranging seals. According to this study, controlling for season during sampling becomes important when assessing blood chemistry values as an index of foraging status or health.

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